CHARLESTON — West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis announced her retirement, retroactively effective Monday, in a morning press conference, which will trigger a special election for her replacement.
Davis, speaking to the media Tuesday morning, said she feels "profound grief for the state of West Virginia given the current state of affairs."
"The majority party has established a preconception which they bring forth, without regard to the evidence, or the process by which the evidence should be considered."
She becomes the second justice to step down in the past two months. Menis Ketchum resigned last month and agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal information charging him with misusing state vehicles.
Davis was one of the four remaining justices who were impeached by the full House of Delegates in a special session Monday that lasted 16 hours as politicians debated the nature of impeachable offenses and the implications of possibly removing the entire court from office.
That scenario would require a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate after their own hearings.
The length of time such proceedings would take would likely allow Gov. Jim Justice to appoint replacements for the justices if they are removed, because there wouldn't be time for a special election.
Davis, who was impeached for what was described as lavish spending on office renovations and overpaying senior justices to hear cases, said she was stepping down precisely to avoid such a situation.
Defiant, she accused the GOP majority of a political power play to put justices they prefer on the bench.
"The will of the people is being denied," she said Tuesday, again speaking out against the majority party. "I just cannot allow the finalizing of their plot to come to fruition."
House Majority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who failed to secure his party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, have both expressed interest in running.
While judicial races in West Virginia are now non-partisan, only Justice Beth Walker was elected in such a manner. Davis was elected as a Democrat.
Davis, who has served on the state's high court for 22 years, said her record reflects her good work as a justice for the people, and categorized the impeachment process as a shameful affair that has ignored key aspects of the case.
Along with Walker, Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Allen Loughry remain in office, though Loughry is suspended and is the subject of a 23-count federal indictment that accuses him of fraud, lying to investigators, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.